February 26, 2022

I was once riding in the back of a city bus that stopped at a grocery store.  An elderly woman exited the bus, but did not go inside.  She just stood there, on the curb, weeping.  The bus driver, who was just about to pull away from the bus stop, shifted into park, opened the door, exited the bus, then hugged and consoled the woman for about a minute.  He eventually returned to the driver’s seat and we pulled away.  I overheard someone say that the woman’s husband had just recently died.  How often do we turn a blind eye to suffering because it makes us feel uncomfortable?  How often do we hesitate to take a risk on authentic ministry because a situation does not fit into our neat understanding of life?  How often do we rationalize away an opportunity to genuinely reach out in service to our sisters and brothers?  It is precisely that false feeling of safety that will make us spiritual zombies whose rituals and religious words are hollow.  Let us therefore have the guts, this coming week, and in the months and years ahead, to actually pull our buses off to the side of the road (Lk 10:34) and meet the Christ whom we have been claiming to seek after all along (cf. Mt. 25:44-45).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica. 

Lord Jesus, you are the eternal Son of God who lives a life, even to this day, of radical trust.  Indeed, you spend your days, nights and weekends trusting and trusting and trusting the living God whom you have known and depended upon since the beginning of time.  Lead me to that low place.  Teach me how to be simple.  Help me to walk the path that leads to authenticity, freedom and life.  May you be the Word who touches my heart and causes me to keep my own word and say what I mean when interacting with other people.  May you be the High Priest who models perfect priesthood for me that I may make my life a continual sacrifice to God on behalf of all of my sisters and brothers.  May you be the Eucharist that heals my wounds and makes me capable of nourishing others with my thoughts, words, actions and presence. I love you, and I invite you ever more deeply into my heart that we, together, may take a risk on and experience the intimacy of being Beloved.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

February 12, 2022

Do you remember your first kiss?  What power!  What fire!  The brain seems to store the memory of such a primal connection at a place too deep for words.  An equally common human experience, however, is the dissatisfaction we feel when that graced moment comes to an end, the passion fades, and two people return to the hard fact of their separateness (cf. Song 5:5-6).  In the Christian life, it seems that we are constantly in search of a kiss that lasts, but do we look to the God who made all things by his cosmic kiss in the beginning (cf. Gen 1:1)?  Do we really and truly seek the “kisses of his mouth” (Song 1:2) in our life of prayer?  Do we admit that we too have betrayed the Lord (cf. Mt 26:49) by the things we have done with our lips?  Indeed, we must learn to make every syllable that rolls off of our tongue, every bite of food, every smile, and every breath we take the kiss that puts us in touch with the infinite.  In doing so, we shall become attached to our Beloved in some durable way that takes away our separation anxiety and expands our hearts for love (cf. Ps 119:32).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

SOME KISS by Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)

Holy Cross Brother and Priest Civil War Veterans 

In 1910, there were eight Brothers living in the Community House (now Columba Hall) who were veterans of the War Between the States.  Each had seen his share, and more, of combat: one had fought on both sides of the war and had been held as a prisoner of war; one heard at the onset of a battle, a voice that declared, “You will die today;” another was to become well known as a contributor to the science of apiary studies; another would become the lab assistant to Father John Zahm, CSC in the new (1906) Science Hall. Three others were so self-effacing that little is known about their forty-plus years as Holy Cross Brothers. 

Included in the photo of these very proud and stately men are those seated in the first row: Brother Leander (James) McLain, Father William Olmstead (a diocesan priest), Father William Corby, Father Peter Cooney and Brother John Chrysostom (Mark) Will.  Standing in the second row are Brother Benedict (Conrad) Mantele, Brother Ignatius (Ignatz) Mayer, General William Hayes, Brother Raphael (James) Maloy, Brother Cosmos (Nicholas) Bath and Brother Eustachius (John) McInerny.  An eighth veteran is Brother Agatho (William) Parle, who was living at the time but is not pictured. 

Each Brother-warrior brought to Holy Cross gifts, not because of his Civil War service, but in spite of it.  For a few, the gifts given by these men to Father Sorin were quite grand; for others quite pedestrian.  Regardless, for each of these grand old gentlemen, his photo radiates with a determination in the eyes that provided him with the ability to be a loyal, victorious citizen of this world, and eventually a very worthy citizen of Heaven. Ave Crux Spes Unica!

February 5, 2022

“I thirst” (Jn 19:30).  With these words, Jesus reminds us that our fundamental human vocation in life is to need.  Indeed, while we may flirt with neediness and other forms of emotional immaturity, to really and truly need puts us in right relationship with God who created us for connection, ourselves because dependence is our natural existential state, and others who meet us with love in our vulnerability.  Even the natural world – like the wine-soaked sponge raised to Jesus’ lips – cooperates!  Thus, the next time we ourselves get thirsty, let’s pause and reflect before we reach for that bottle:  Where does my thirst come from?  What does it mean for me to be thirsty? What will my thirst be like in the next life?  Am I aware that others thirst too? We can then offer a simple prayer of gratitude: Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to participate in this vast and glorious system of interdependence. By being created with and for others, you have offered me a taste of your own life. I thirst with you from that eternal cross that stands at the end of time, and I need you. Amen. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!



1846 – C1990

This photo was taken in 1902 and it features the Brothers of Holy Cross who staffed the Notre Dame Fire Company from 1846 through c.1990.  The last brother to hold the title of fire chief is Brother Borromeo (Thomas) Malley (1913-1994) who directed the department for nearly fifty years. 

The brothers’ names are listed to the right: each of them had many more careers than putting out campus fires. Some became legendary among the members of the community.

The first brother on the left, holding the ax, is Brother Peter Claver Hosinski who in 1910 became the founding principal of Holy Trinity High School in Chicago, IL. He would also serve as a Bengal missionary for many years.  Several members of his family joined Holy Cross: his sister, Sister Severina, and two of his brothers and an uncle became Holy Cross Priests. Father Ted Hesburgh’s personal secretary for over thirty years was Mrs. Helen Hosinski. 

To Hosinski’s left is Brother Bernard Gervais, an incredibly gifted man who held many positions of authority in the congregation.  Over a space of many years he created le Matricule, the membership register, listing the names of all of the men who joined the Congregation of Holy Cross – priests and brothers – beginning in 1820 with Abbé Dujarié as number 1. The detailed list ends with number 5,700, Frère Gabriel (Jean-August Rondel). Gervais worked on this list from 1936 through 1941.

The third member is Brother Raymond Ott peeking over Brother Bernard’s shoulder. He worked at the Ave Maria Press and was a canvasser – a salesman – of the Ave Maria for nearly thirty-five years.  The Fourth is Brother Walter Remlinger, who also became a Bengal missionary. He contracted a fatal form of malaria and was sent back to Notre Dame where he was celebrated as a very holy brother because of enduring such a “torturous death”.

Brother Maximum Czyzewski is the fifth man who went on to serve as a teacher at Holy Trinity High School for fifty-four years, and he was the fourth principal from 1917-1920.  Father James S. Ready, number six, would go on to be appointed in 1918, the vice president of Columbia University in Portland, OR, now the University of Portland.

Brother James, number seven, is the one of the “lost brothers” as there are no documents to be found about his years in Holy Cross.  So also, with Brother number nine. Under a magnifying glass his name appears to be Brother Assisi; however, there is no such name in le Matricule. There is a possibility that this is Brother Arsenius Luther, and he would be about the right age of the man pictured.

Number eight, Brother Stanislaus Kurowski, was an elementary teacher, accomplished organist and dramatist who worked at St. Hedwig’s Parish and School in South Bend. And the last, Brother Ernest Heller, number ten, was a teacher and the third Bengal missionary.

Yes, the early brothers and priests were jacks-of-all-trades, and, truly, the masters of most of them. Ave Crux Spes Unica.